This dish is one of my favorites! It reminds me of enjoying meals in trattorias while traveling in Italy, restaurants in New York City’s Little Italy, and on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. They were good times spent with my family while enjoying great food.
When I want to cook a light meal or a side dish to go with a fish such as grey sole, I will make this dish. The recipe is from one of my favorite chefs, Giada DeLaurentiis. You can find this recipe and many others in her book Everyday Italian.
As Giada says in her book, “Spaghetti with clams is very different from spaghetti with clam sauce, they are not the same dish. The first is a dish with a light, fragrant dressing tossed with whole clams and in my opinion the only way to make this dish.”
To make this dish you will use Manila Clams. They are a smaller clam and are sold by the pound. You can also use Cockles or, if you prefer a larger clam, you can use small Little Necks, which are sold by the dozen. I use linguini instead of spaghetti, which is flat pasta. If I can, I will buy the pasta fresh. When using fresh pasta, you may want to increase the amount used by a ¼ of a pound.
Spaghetti with Clams
1 lb dried spaghetti or linguini , or 1 ¼ lb fresh pasta
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 ½ to 3 pounds Manila clams, scrubbed clean
½ to 1 cup dry white wine
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon course black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
Grated Reggio Parmesan cheese
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium high flame. When almost smoking, add the shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is golden brown and the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the black pepper and let it absorb for a minute.
Add the cleaned clams, wine, sea salt, chopped parsley and basil. Cover and simmer until clams have opened; discard any that do not open. Whisk in the butter to thicken the sauce slightly.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Do not rinse the spaghetti with water; you want to retain the natural starches that help the sauce adhere to the spaghetti. Toss the spaghetti with the clam mixture in the pan to coat. Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten.
Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley. Ladle into individual bowls and top with the Reggio Parmesan cheese.
Serve with your favorite salad and crusty Italian bread. Enjoy!